Last year I did a series of articles entitled “The 7 Deadly Gay Sins”. I’m following that up with this first article is a new series called “The 7 Heavenly Gay Virtues”. I’m using the word “heavenly” to denote a sense of goodness and morality as opposed to any specific religious sense. After all, you don’t need to believe in any god to be a good person with admirable virtues.
First of all, a very brief
history of the Seven Virtues of traditional belief. All faiths have virtues to
which worshippers practice. Aristotle and Plato came up with four which were
adopted by the Christians as the Four Cardinal Virtues. To this they added
Faith, Hope and Charity from the New Testament. By the 5th century
all seven of these were grouped together as opposing qualities to the Seven
Each of the Virtues has an
opposing Sin. As illustrated in my series of articles last year all of the Sins
were assigned colours, six of which appear on the Rainbow Pride flag. I’m going
to take each of the Seven Virtues just as I did with the Sins and build up a
Virtuous Pride flag. Its all just a bit of fun and shouldn’t be taken too
seriously, though some of the actual Virtues have very serious aspects.
So, what’s first? The red
stripe at the top of the Pride flag represented the Deadly Sin of Anger. The
opposite or absence of Anger is Patience. Patience sums up all of the
progresses that various disenfranchised or persecuted communities have endured
from time immemorial.
The lgbt community has
been very patient and has waited many centuries to become accepted as equal
members in society. There’s still a very long way to go before full equality
reaches the global lgbt community. If studying history has taught me anything
it’s that change has never come quickly.
There are qualities which
the Medieval world associated with Patience. One of these is resilience. I want
to quote here from an article published by Huffpost Queer Voices (then known as
Huffpost Gay Voices) last year. The words are by Swami Varadan, the host of a
Californian programme called “The Urban Turban Show”. The title of his article
is “3 Lessons the LGBT Community Has Taught Me”. Number 1 on his list is
Patience, He writes :
“They say that Patience is
a Virtue. Imagine not being able to marry someone what you love? Imagine not
getting the same tax benefits as your straight friends? Imagine if your lover
was in the hospital but you didn’t have the ‘right’ to go se them? This is what
my LGBT friends dealt with over and over again. Patience is what they learned
and taught me. If you want something in life you have to have Patience. You
have to have Patience during times when you want to quit...”
Another quality given to
Patience is sufferance. The plight of many lgbt victims of discrimination and
persecution show a great deal of sufferance with dignity. The instances of
online bullying has created a destructive presence in the lgbt community. I’ve
lost count of the number of people I’ve put into my lgbt index who committed
suicide because of the online bullying they received. A response to this
distressing fact was the creation of the “It Gets Better” campaign.
“It Gets Better” was
created in 2010 is response to the suicides of several teenagers in a short
period in the US who had been bullied because of their sexuality. The main
message behind the campaign is that all the problems of bullying disappear as
soon as time goes on. In the real world, however, bullying doesn’t disappear,
it just goes by a different name and find a different reason to bully. And the
lgbt community is not innocent of bullying members of its own community.
Here I must offer my own
personal perspective. I’ve been an out gay man since 1997. In the years since
then I have lived through periods when various UK governments have passed what
have been regarded as anti-gay laws. Yet, none of these have actually had any
direct negative effect on my life as a gay man. True, I have received
homophobic abuse and taunts, but they are not what have hurt or upset me the
What has upset me are
comments and attitudes (and, yes, anger verging on hate speech) from members of
the lgbt community to my personal beliefs and politics. At Nottinghamshire
Pride last July I was bombarded with propaganda and criticism expressed to me
for not being one of the “atheist left-wing” majority that I left not long
after the march ended. I felt abused, and depressed that the community to which
I belong was rejecting me. I suppose I lacked the resilience that is associated
with Patience. And it’s not the first time it happened. It’s happening in other
places as well. Even London Pride has declared that its 2016 event will ban
certain lgbt political and religious groups just because the people organising
don't agree with their politics or faith.
My own experiences are not
common but neither are they unique. The virtue of Patience applies to all
aspects of our lives. I hope that I always display a degree of Patience with
those who disagree with my views and never resort to Anger to counter it.
To finish let’s have our
first look at the Virtuous Pride flag. Red is the symbol of Anger, so it’s
opposing virtue of Patience is red also.
Next time we look at the
Virtue that opposes the Sin of Gluttony.